Shin Splints – Lower Leg Pain.

shinsplintsA widely-used phrase describing lower-leg pain on either side of the tibia. It can be medial, lateral or both and is the bane of runners and other athletes who try to do too much before adaptation. Shin splints account for 13-17% of all running injuries and give general pain symptoms on the front of the leg between the knee and ankle. Shin splints result from repetitive stress where the body hasn’t been given enough time to adapt to increased distance or uphill running regimes (too much, too soon). They are also caused by other factors such as flat foot/ over-pronation (medial shin splints) or imbalances between your calf muscles and their opposite, tibialis anterior (anterior shin splints). There is no consensus to what exactly it is―other than painful―but treatment methods are widely accepted.

Self-Help:

  • Stop or decrease running based on your pain level.
  • Ice the area down to reduce inflammation. Massage the area after reducing inflammation.
  • Wear compressive sleeves over your shins.
  • Cross-train to reduce repetitive stress.
  • Wear support or “stability plus” shoes to combat flat foot/over-pronation.
  • Run on soft terrain and avoid roads.

Corrective Exercises:

  • Stretch tibialis anterior and the anterior aspect of your shin.
Stretch for Shin Splints

Stretch for Shin Splints

Stretch the fascia and muscles on either side of your shin bone (tibia):

Kneel with legs and feet together, toes pointed back. Slowly sit back onto heels, pushing ankles into the floor. Hold 10-30 seconds, 1-3 reps, 1-3x/day.

  • Stretch your calf muscles (gastrocnemius/soleus).
Stretch Calf Muscles

Stretch Calf Muscles

Gastrocnemius – Place palms on wall, shoulder width apart and just below shoulder height. Place one foot back a suitable distance with heel in firm contact with the ground. Make sure toes point forwards ―not turned out or in, but perpendicular to the wall. Place the other foot forward in a comfortable position, with the knee bent. Back leg is straight with no knee bend and your butt should be out a little naturally. Now bring your butt in keeping your back heel on the ground so that ankle, hip, shoulder and ear lobe are in alignment. You should feel a stretch in your calf muscles. If not, readjust. Hold 30-60 sec, 1-3 reps, 1-3x/day.

Soleus – The same as above, except that back leg is not straight, but bent at the knee (think telemark skiing).

  • Foam roll your calf muscles (gastrocnemius/soleus).
Foam Roll Calf Muscles

Foam Roll Calf Muscles

Sit on the floor with both legs extended, back comfortably upright. Try not to lean backwards too far. Place both palms or fist knuckles on the floor just behind hips. Place the belly of your left or right calf muscle on top of the foam roller and search for a tender position, then stop and stay on that spot. Press your torso upwards by raising your butt off the floor and cross the other foot over the lower foot. Over the next 30 seconds slowly point the bottom foot and toes away and then slowly pull them back up towards your body, 4x. This should increase the pressure on your calf muscle as body weight is fully supported on three points―a tripod formed by two hands pushing your butt up from the ground and the point loading on the foam roller.

After you have done this 1x for 30 seconds, take a brief rest, then move the roller one inch up or down and repeat the exercise before switching to the other leg.

The above is an extract from 

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